January 1. I open the front blinds and catch a glimpse of pure fresh white appearing against brown, dead earth. I look closer. My phlox is blooming.
It’s winter, thirty degrees out, an even frost covering ground, cars, and rooftops. First day of a new year, first day of a new decade.
Creeping phlox, the Greek word for “flame,” boasts starry flowers—five-point petals densely packed into clusters. Perennials, they are sun-loving, bloom in spring and summer, and spread over rockery or tough clay soil. Their needle-like foliage stays green all year.
Now the green is juxtaposed against the fallen, red-tan leaves of the Japanese maple, the blanched-lifeless strands of leftover butter-yellow day lilies that spend their summers stretching high toward the sun, and the helpless wild geraniums curled in on themselves. The Hawaiian ginger is laid out flat for dead. Atop the green foliage, I see maybe twenty white blooms.
Why now? These little creepers love sun, drought, and heat. Winter is gray, cloudy, mostly wet, with chill. Is their blooming a sign?
“Flame” or fire in some cultures symbolizes God’s radiant glory and holiness and can be used as an instrument of his power. Many cultures view fire as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.
And so . . . the new year begins, and I step into it seeing a need to look at the earth, at nature all around me, and know God and his ways and wisdom, as he manifests these in his creation. It’s for me to seek and find and know.